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Introduction

We analyzed over 30 billion emails sent globally between January and December 2019. These campaigns were sent by Campaign Monitor customers across 171 countries to subscribers all around the world.

Key takeaways

01 | Government organizations continue to dominate open rates globally.

Though Government unseated Nonprofits as the top industry for highest open rates, this year’s top three industries in that category—Government, Nonprofit, and Education respectively—were also top performers in 2019’s report. However, they saw even better numbers in this year’s study.

Government open rates improved by a whopping 10.71% (from 19.79% last year to 30.5% this year). Nonprofit open rates improved by 4.81% (from 20.39% last year to 25.2% this year). And Education open rates improved by 4.5% (from 18.9% last year to 23.4% this year).

02 | Last year’s industry with the lowest open rates isn’t even in this year’s bottom three.

Consumer Packaged Goods only saw 14.53% open rates last year and remained consistent this year at 14.5% open rates. However, this year, that percentage was high enough to make it out of the bottom three.

The Automotive and Aerospace industry saw the lowest open rates of only 12.6%, dropping from around 17% last year. Meanwhile, Food and Beverage (13.0% this year vs 15.48% last year) as well as Retail (13.9% vs 14.98% last year) both experienced lower open rates than the previous year to remain in the bottom three.

03 | The click-through rates for government emails experienced a sharp jump this year.

The top three industries by click-through rate remained the same as in 2019, though the ranking differed. Government jumped two places to become the top industry for click-through rate, while Real Estate, Design and Construction Activities, and Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing and Hunting also remained within the top three.

Government click-through rates improved by 1.06% (from 3.04% last year to 4.1% this year). Real Estate, Design and Construction Activities click-through rates improved by 1.02% (from 18.88% last year to 19.9% this year). And Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing and Hunting click-through rates remained relatively consistent, decreasing by 0.16% (from 3.66% last year to 3.5% this year).

04 | Global Retail open rates dropped in 2019, though engagement remained high.

While Retail emails experienced lower open rates than the previous year (13.9% this year, down from 14.98% last year), the click-to-open rate of 15.2% remained higher than the 14.3% average. This means the people who open Retail emails are likely to visit their site.

Retail has some of the highest competition of all industries, which can lead to low open rates. Despite seeing lower open and click-through rates, 38% of US consumers report having been driven to action due to email.

05 | Tuesdays see the highest open rates but also the highest unsubscribe rates.

We get a lot of questions about the best days to send emails. But this finding proves that while sending emails on Tuesday might help you see a higher open rate, you could just as likely see more unsubscribes.

While it’s unfortunate there’s no simple hack to seeing more opens and click-throughs for your email marketing strategy, this means that marketers can stop chasing an elusive “best day” and instead focus on the real answer to seeing better metrics: following email marketing best practices and A/B testing to discover the day your audience is most engaged.

06 | The highest-performing industries see high engagement in all areas.

Government, alongside Real Estate, Design and Construction Activities, and Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing and Hunting have some of the highest performing emails across the board. Their subscribers open and click on a high percentage of the emails they send.

07 | The average global email benchmarks remained consistent from last year.

While most average benchmarks remained consistent from 2018’s performance, we saw an improvement to bounce rates and unsubscribes. Bounce rates improved by .36% and our emails saw .08% fewer unsubscribes. This means marketers are getting better at sending emails their subscribers love and look forward to.

Not only are marketers keeping their subscriber lists up to date, they’re also keeping subscribers engaged with high-quality content that meets subscribers’ needs.

08 | Email marketing continues to engage today’s consumers. And we predict even stronger numbers for next year.

Last year’s best numbers saw big improvements for 2019. That just proves that regardless of how well your email marketing strategy currently performs, there’s always room to improve. The best and most useful emails will continue to see high open and click-through rates as you establish your brand as a must-read resource for your subscribers.

Check out last year’s report to see how your industry has changed.

 

Infographic of this year’s key findings

This infographic highlights a few of our favorite findings from this report.

Chapter 1

Email benchmarks by industry and day

Average email benchmarks for all industries

  • Average open rate: 17.8%
  • Average click-through rate: 2.6%
  • Average click-to-open rate: 14.3%
  • Average unsubscribe rate: 0.1%
  • Average bounce rate: 0.7%

Email benchmarks for all industries

Here’s the breakdown for average metrics across all industries globally.

Open rates for all industries by day

This chart examines open rates specifically, showing rates by day of the week and industries globally.

Click-through rates for all industries by day

This chart examines click-through rates specifically, showing rates by day of the week and industries globally.

Click-to-open rates for all industries by day

This chart examines click-to-open rates specifically, showing rates by day of the week and industries globally.

Unsubscribe rates for all industries by day

This chart examines unsubscribe rates specifically, showing rates by day of the week and industries globally.

Bounce rates for all industries by day

This chart examines bounce rates specifically, showing rates by day of the week and industries globally.

 

Chapter 2

Email benchmarks by day

Average email benchmarks by day

Taking averages across all campaigns sent globally—regardless of industry—you can see how these campaigns perform by day of the week.

Best days for email marketing

Based on the global averages by day shown above, these are the best days for sending based on specific metrics.

  • Best day with highest email open rates: Tuesday (18.3%)
  • Best days with highest click-through rates: Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday (2.6%)
  • Best days with highest click-to-open rates: Thursday and Friday (14.4%)
  • Best days with lowest unsubscribe rates: Sunday, Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday (0.1%)
  • Best day with lowest bounce rates: Wednesday (0.6%)

Worst days for email marketing

Based on the global averages by day shown above, these are the worst days for sending based on specific metrics.

  • Worst day with lowest email open rates: Saturday (17.5%)
  • Worst days with lowest click-through rates: Wednesday and Saturday (2.5%)
  • Worst day with lowest click-to-open rates: Sunday (14.2%)
  • Worst day with highest unsubscribe rates: Tuesday (0.2%)
  • Worst days with highest bounce rates: Friday, Saturday (0.8%)

 

Chapter 3

Top industries by specific metrics

Top industries by open rates

  1. Government (30.5%)
  2. Nonprofit (25.2%)
  3. Education (23.4%)

Explore more resources on open rates here.

 

Top industries by click-through rates

  1. Government (4.1%)
  2. Real Estate, Design and Construction Activities (3.6%)
  3. Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing and Hunting (3.5%)

Explore more resources on click-through rates here.

 

Top industries by click-to-open rates

  1. Real Estate, Design and Construction Activities (17.7%)
  2. Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing and Hunting (17.1%)
  3. Media, Entertainment, and Publishing (16.9%)

Explore more resources on click-to-open rates here.

 

Chapter 4

Compare benchmarks between countries

See how the global benchmarks compare to three other major regions: Australia, United Kingdom, and United States.

Chapter 5

Understanding email marketing metrics and how to improve them

Email open rate

Email open rate is the percentage of the total number of subscribers who opened an email campaign.

These rates can vary depending on the subject line and the relevancy of the subject matter for subscribers, but we found an average open rate of 17.80%.

How to improve your email open rate:

  • Improve your subject lines
  • Test subject line length, tone and content
  • Optimize for previews with preheader text
  • Test sender name and email address (ex. company name vs. CEO’s name)
  • Test send day, send time, and send cadence (ex. daily vs. weekly)
  • Ensure relevant content through personalization and segmentation

Explore more resources on open rates »

 

Email click-through rate

The email click-through rate is the number of subscribers who click on a link or image in your email out of all the total emails you’ve sent, regardless of whether or not the subscriber opened the campaign. Your click-through rate will be smaller than your click-to-open rate since it’s calculated using the larger number of total emails (versus just those who have opened).

Your click-through rate offers insight into how many of your total subscribers are visiting your website and ultimately converting from email. Comparing your open rates, click-to-open rates, and your click-through rates can reveal where your email marketing campaign is weakest.

We found an average click-through rate of 2.60%.

How to improve your click-through rate:

  • Create stronger segments so you always send the most relevant content
  • Maintain your brand voice throughout your messaging
  • Improve your calls-to-action through clear copy and better design
  • Offer strong incentives to capture subscribers’ attention
  • Ensure your subject line accurately reflects the content of your emails
  • A/B test what works

Explore more resources on click-through rates » 

 

Email click-to-open rate

The email click-to-open rate is the percentage of email viewers (those that open an email) who click on a link or image within an email. The email click-to-open rate may be considered a measure of the immediate response rate of an email.

It’s often a key metric used to measure the success—or lack of success—of a specific email campaign. We found an average email click-to-open rate of 14.30%.

How to improve your email click-to-open rate:

  • Make sure your email renders well across devices
  • Collect the right data to segment and personalize
  • Optimize your email design and copy
  • Include an irresistible, easy-to-click call to action
  • A/B test each email element individually
  • Automate your emails to scale what works

Explore more resources on click rates »

 

Unsubscribe rate

Unsubscribe is the action a user takes to opt out of getting any more emails. The percentage of people who unsubscribe is often displayed as a reporting number on each email campaign you send.

This is an important number to study on every campaign to see if certain topics, subject lines, or templates drive up your unsubscribe number, as this is an indicator of an unhappy or disinterested audience. We found an average unsubscribe rate of 0.10%.

How to improve your unsubscribe rate:

  • Grow a healthy list from the start
  • Use automation to build long-term brand engagement
  • Segment your audience to send more relevant emails
  • Re-engage your audience to maintain list hygiene
  • Remember that some list churn is normal and healthy

Explore more resources on unsubscribe rates »

 

Email bounce rate

A bounced email is an email that couldn’t be delivered. Specifically, it’s an explanation of delivery failure related to server or spam issues, whether these issues are permanent or temporary.

Typically, bounce rate is a metric expressed as a percentage of subscribers who didn’t receive your message. There are two types of bounces: hard and soft. We found an average bounce rate of .70%.

How to improve your email bounce rate:

  • Don’t send to stale lists
  • Never use purchased lists
  • Remove invalid email addresses
  • Use confirmed opt-in
  • Never use free webmail addresses
  • Avoid spammy content
  • Suppress previous bounces

Explore more resources on bounce rates »

 

Email deliverability

Email deliverability is the ability to deliver emails to subscribers’ inboxes. It’s what some marketers use to gauge the likelihood of their email campaigns reaching their subscribers’ inboxes related to actual delivery.

Issues with ISPs, throttling, bounces, spam issues, and bulking hurt your deliverability and thus reduce the number of your emails that will land in your subscribers’ inboxes.

That’s why your deliverability will impact everything from open rate to clicks to spam reports, so prioritizing this will have a huge impact on your email marketing success.

How to improve your email deliverability:

  • Send using custom authentication
  • Using double rather than single opt-in
  • Make it really easy to unsubscribe
  • Avoid using URL shorteners
  • Don’t send from a free domain email address
  • Don’t send emails with too many images

Explore more resources on deliverability »

 

Chapter 6

Takeaways to improve your email marketing

Email marketing continues to perform well, bringing in major ROI for brands. Owning your data and connecting with customers where they already are—in their inboxes—can be huge factors when it comes time to measure the success of your marketing methods.

We often hear from customers that they know email marketing works, but they aren’t sure exactly how to tap into the channel to see the results they need to keep their brand growing. With these benchmarks, you can see exactly how your email strategy compares, and where a little bit of time and focus will lend itself to the biggest results.

Test out our email builder to see how over 30 billion emails were sent quickly and easily with Campaign Monitor.

 

Notes about terminology

Whenever you see us discussing “Averages,” we find these averages using all campaigns. Some industries send more emails than others, so we calculate averages by all campaigns sent, regardless of industry.

You’ll also see an “Unknown” category in the list of industries. These are Campaign Monitor accounts that don’t fit into a particular industry, or the industry for these accounts isn’t listed.

If you’re not sure what individual metrics entail or how they’re being measured, you can learn about email metrics at length in a guide.

To read up on what each metric means and how it’s calculated, visit this post.

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